Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” Boosts Bureaucracy
On September 12, the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s famous “moonshot” speech, Joe Biden proclaimed that “beating cancer is something we can do together and that’s why I’m here today.” Those gathered at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, like many across the country, may have been unaware that this was a repeat performance.
“The time has come in America when the same kind of concentrated effort that split the atom and took man to the moon should be turned toward conquering this dread disease,” President Richard Nixon proclaimed in his 1971 State of the Union address. “Let us make a total national commitment to achieve this goal.” On December 23, 1971, President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, which gave the National Cancer Institute unique autonomy at the National Institutes of Health, with special budgetary authority.
In 2015, Joe Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer, and vice president Biden announced a $1 billion “moonshot” to cure the disease. In 2016, the National Cancer Institute got a budgetary boost, and the NCI advisory board added a 28-member working group. In 2022, Biden’s current approach remains essentially bureaucratic.
In March, he created the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). Biden named as director Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, who earned a Ph.D. in applied biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, but whose bio shows nothing specific about actual cancer research.
As the Biden White House explains, Dr. Wegrzyn worked for two of the institutions that inspired the creation of ARPA-H – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) that “will deliver the strategy for the agency’s nascent research portfolio and inaugural budget.”
Under Dr. Wegrzyn’s leadership, “ARPA-H will support programs and projects that undertake challenges ranging from the molecular to the societal, with the potential to transform entire areas of medicine and health to prevent, detect, and treat some of the most complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer, providing benefits for all Americans.”
The Biden “fact sheet” touts America’s “extraordinary biomedical system that has delivered stunning advances previously seen as inconceivable – from COVID-19 vaccines to drugs that can eliminate certain cancers.” As Americans might recall, repeated application of those same vaccines, plus boosters, failed to prevent the acquisition or transmission of COVID-19.
Biden was duly vaccinated and boosted, but in July, he came down with COVID. Biden’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, also fully vaccinated and boosted, also tested positive for COVID in June.
Biden’s “cancer moonshot” will surely boost bureaucracy. All Americans can have more than a reasonable doubt that it will achieve any more success at beating cancer than past expansions of the nation’s “extraordinary biomedical system.”